Wednesday, May 19, 2010

You can't hide me. I remain.

I’m going to write about something that most of my closest family members don’t even know. I have no idea why I feel the need to write it but I do.

I’ve talked about 15 years ago before. That’s when I got married, bought a new house, bought a new car, moved out of my parent’s home for the first time and got a new job – all within 6 months of each other.


Really happy. For a moment.

If you recall, my Uncle killed himself when I was 15. I was changed forever in that gunshot. Right after that I met my husband and I was rarely alone ever after that. I lived for my husband – through the grief of losing my Uncle – I lost myself and any identity I had. During our engagement my husband was gone for months in a semi – yet I lived with my parents – so again – I was never alone. I became a pro at masking my emotions. I laughed all day. I smiled at the appropriate times. Inside I was dying and every night I cried myself to sleep. I never knew why. I just couldn’t find peace within myself – though nothing was wrong.

The week after I got married my husband went on the road for two months. I was alone.  Really alone. In a big house. There was no one to fake happy for. And the desperation made its way out.

I saw a doctor who told me this much change in a person’s life should be over a 5 or 10 year span and I did it all in months. My body couldn’t take it even if it was GOOD change. Fine – sounded good to me. Give it time – here’s some Xanax in the meantime.

The next week I got the flu. I vaguely remember being so weak nurses carried me to my mom’s car from the clinic I worked in…what a way to start a new job. I didn’t know it then but I wouldn’t see that place again for a month. They all thought I had the flu still – and bad.

I never had the flu. My mom took me to her house and put me in her bed upstairs and for two solid weeks I didn’t get out of it but to pee. I didn’t eat. Nor did I sleep.

You see eating meant I would live…..and I didn’t want to live. Sleeping meant rest so I could wake up revived….and I didn’t want to wake up. I stared all day and night at a ceiling praying my body would die to cure the ache inside. I had full blown bedridden depression. Just like that – happiest time of my life – and I couldn’t even move.

For those of you who haven’t been in the throes of this – it is inexplicable and excruciating. Your body is built to fight to live – but when your mind wants to die – you can’t fight it. You know you should…..but you can’t. I have lost most of the memories from that time. One I remember is my mom bringing me juice after I lost 20 lbs laying there and she begged me to drink just one sip. She pleaded and cried – I would not. Food meant life. This was not life.

I wanted nothing more than to drink that juice to wipe away the panic in her eyes as her daughter lay there dying. But I could not drink it.

And I remember being hidden. 15 years ago depression wasn’t what it is now. And in my family it was taboo and crazy. You know – like the Uncle who killed himself that no one wanted to talk about? My mom had a daycare – people and babies in and out all day. I was not allowed to come out of the bedroom. Someone might see me and what would we tell them? People – even family – even my own brothers – were told I had the flu. I saw no one and talked to no one but my mom.

My Uncle was a shame dead.
I was a shame alive.

Though I was in a living coma and blocked out most memories of this time - I remember being hidden. It is no one’s fault. My parents knew no better. It is what it is. They were scared out of their minds – watching me die – when in their heads nothing was wrong with me.

Being hidden is the reason that 15 years into a depression I have completely managed – most people in my life do not know of the time when I was inches from death. Most do not know the shame I carry with that secret – though I know I should not feel that way. It is ingrained in me.

There are days I want to scream it from the rooftops when my co-workers nonchalantly talk about mixing up their Prozac or doubling their meds on a bad day. I want to know if they hit bottom like I did – I want to know if they ever physically could not eat, sleep or move from a bed. I want to know if their pain was ever as real as mine. Really I just want to know how they talk about it without shame?

Many of you will tell me – just say it. Just tell the people that you want to know. But remember me? I’m the model employee, wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend? I’m the one who does it all nearly perfectly. What kind of a fake am I if I sit down and admit to them I once couldn’t do any of it? How can I explain that pain and make it real to them because to them depression is just a word. How can I admit that I’m vulnerable? I’m actually weak? I am human.

And to get to this SuperWoman spot that I’m in right now – I had to go through hell and back. I had to learn you can’t live for someone or something else. I had to learn to live for me and figure out I was worth it. What little memory I have of that time can haunt me to the core if I let it. 99% of the time depression doesn’t affect me and hasn’t for years.

The secret about having it and what I went through – well that affects me deeply. And why? I do not know.

Probably because I don’t think anyone who hasn’t suffered through depression or watched someone go through it really knows what it is and what it’s like. So if I were to say I had it – all the wrong images would come to mind – and I don’t want those images to taint the seriousness of my pain back then or taint who I am now.

It’s like living at the bottom of a black hole with not one speck of light…and you know you should get out. And you even know that somewhere in that hole there’s a rope that could get you out. But your hands won’t grab it…because your mind wants to die there. Your only way out is if someone reaches in and drags you out – or you die. It is unimagineable pain and the only way to end it is to get through it….and getting through it makes you feel a fear you’ve never known. Like I said – inexplicable.

I have watched two people I love die of two physical diseases. One Alzheimers and one cancer so big I could feel it in her stomach. I would take that pain and that death any day over what I felt in those dark days before meds kicked in. Hands down – no question.

Years later my younger sister suffered from depression too.  Do you want to know if we hid her too? 

We did not. We embraced her and her disease - because of my pain from years back we now knew what it was and how to fix it fast.  I'm so relieved about that though I wonder who I'd be today if that's the treatment I would have gotten....though I know it wasn't intentional and it was no one's's hard not to wonder.

Please – my point is – do not minimize depression when someone tells you they suffer from it. Do not assume you know what it feels like. Do not think the pain isn’t debilitating. And for God’s sake – don’t hide that person. You’ve got to reach in and drag them out…there is hope…there is healing….

I am proof.

You can’t hide me. I remain.


LDswims said...

Pure and complete love.

Email is coming.

You are beautiful!

Weighting Around said...

Fortunately, I've never suffered from depression but I can see, from your words, that it is definitely not easy. You are strong, though, and have worked through many difficulties in your life and here you are, after everything you have gone through, a much stronger person. I hope many people read this post in which you bare your soul and learn from your experiences.

tessierose said...

Wow, such a moving post. Thanks for sharing. I'm sorry for your pain. Rosebud's sending you a big hug!

Alexis said...

I'm at a loss for words at the moment. Wow. That was REALLY powerful.

I too experienced something semi-similar just a few years back. Within the span of about 6-9 months I got married, started a new job, sold our condo, moved into a new house (and got a dog), watched my grandmother who raised me pass away and learned of my mom's disease that later killed her (she passed away just last year). I wasn't bed ridden, but I may as well had been. It took a long time (about 1-2 years) to finally bring myself back from the brink. It is lonely and devastating at that rock bottom place. My poor husband struggled with what to do. I honestly don't know how or what brought me out of that place, but I actually feel grateful for that time in my life. It taught me so much. Don't get me wrong, I would never like to go back to that place again, but the lessons I learned in that awful time were unforgettable.

Thank you so much for writing such a wonderful post on something SO important.

workinprogress said...

You are right - unless you have experienced it you can't understand it.

I went through similar about 10 years ago. Thank God people are talking about it now.


Nora said...

I've been sad before... and even for awhile... but never understood what depression was... except that it was serious. Thank you for sharing, putting it to words, and not hiding. [big squeeze!]

Flabby McGee said...

What an awesome post. Thank you so much for telling this part of your story. Depression is VERY SERIOUS, my grandfather in law hung himself for that reason. (1 month after I married, b/c his grandson married me and he felt alone)I deal with it on a daily basis - and I am dealing with it today. It's a bad day for me. But reading this really helped me see that I haven't hit rock bottom, I want to live. thank you again, thank you, thank you!

Crystal said...

OMG you are the strongest person i've ever met... i mean to make it through that alive... and then to be able to talk about it! i've never been quite that low, but i've been suffering from depression for about two and a half years now... i take meds each day for it... if i skip my meds for even a few days, i drive myself crazy... i still have days where i'm upset for really no reason... but i'm still hidden from most of my family... i feel that shame... i'm really close to my grandparents and would be devistated if they found out i'm on medication... so i know exactly what you mean about embracing people... it's out there probably way more than we know... thanks for sharing such a deep post... you have so many people here rooting for you and supporting you... one day at a time, ya know?

Katie J said...

I wrote a post about depression today too. I am still on meds and still struggle some but not nearly like before. Thanks for sharing Draz

Amy W. said...

my little butter biscuit. I love you so much. I really honestly think that you are in the wrong damn profession. I know from being lucky enough to are so good and kind and amazing at offering support and would be such a wonderful wonderful counselor.

I think the way you share is beautiful.

I think you are beautiful.

Love you.



Carmen said...

so i sat, staring at the screen, in tears, trying to figure out just what to say....still haven't figured it out.
love you! i going to bring one of those baby backpack thingys to chicago and carry you around the whole weekend :-)

karen said...


Jennifer said...

I just want to say I love you and you are getting the BIGGEST HUG EVER when I see you - in 9 days.

Genie @ Diet of 51 said...

Wowser. When is your autobiography being published?

OK, really, I don't mean to be flippant. You have DEPTH..... And courage. And you can write!

What a coincidence that I saw a Sleep Specialist yesterday and we talked about depression. The Doctor said, "no, you're not in a depressed state, but you could get there if you don't get your insomnia straightened out."

I'm going to do the stuff she suggested to get some sleep, because I really don't want to progress.... Especially after reading this no-nonsense account...

Thanks for the warning.

Sandy Lee said...

I just love what Carmen had to say. I'll take turns with the baby backpack thingy. Sent you an e-mail because I'm choked up.

Gwen said...

You are incredibly brave to have shared such an intimate secret. I'm always amazed at what a talent you have for taking life, truth and writing it so eloquently for all of us to experience. Thank you for having the gumption to expose yourself so those around you can grow and not feel alone.

Ms. Chunky Chick said...

My mom and the xah are bipolar. And not that I have any knowledge of your mom but I never talked about it but out of the fact that i felt completely helpless when they slid into the depression. The fact that I couldnt fix them. IT IS THE SADDEST THING. I would just keep telling them I loved them. And you are amazing because it is still hidden. Big hugs

The CilleyGirl said...

So many things to say.... I applaud you for the courage to speak out. Very few do, which just perpetuates the stigma of depression.

I was officially diagnosed about eight years ago, when it got so bad that I was in a black hole without a speck of light without realizing that I was. It was only later that I understood how far under I'd gone. But the episode that lead to my diagnosis was just the peak of it all. In actuality, I've been depressed since I was 7 years old (I'll be 40 this fall).

The defining moment as a child was basically my dad walking out on my mom (and therefore me) and then getting an asshole stepdad right after that. But I've had episodes come on over the years that weren't triggered by anything major or really even minor. The darkness would just gradually descend until it was complete. The black periods would last for years. Never realized until later, on meds, how I lost so much of my life because of depression.

I talk about it to anyone who will listen because, given my own experiences, I believe that depression is a chemical imbalance in your brain. Yes, a major event or series of events in your life can trigger it, but sometimes it does just happen. To this day, I am vigilant about watching for the signs that I am getting lost again. You can't just snap out of it if your own body is working against you. Some people are lucky enough that their chemistry shifts back to "normal". I'm not. I'm fine with being on depression meds the rest of my life if it means never going back to that dark place again.

So I talk about it, because there is no shame in depression. The only shame is in trying to make it something shameful. And you're right, you can't truly understand depression unless you've been there. While I wouldn't wish depression on anyone, I hope that someone reading your post and these comments is motivated to seek help, because it's there. Wanting to be healthy is so much more than just our limbs or our tummies or our asses. It's the whole package.

JourneyBeyondSurvival said...

The blight and shunning that comes with mental illness is slowly beginning to thaw. But it is still harder for those of us 'matriculated' ones to admit our status.

I don't. I won't either. I don't for the same reasons I wouldn't share about incontinence or a UTI. Because it's private and they don't need to know.

But until recently it used to be about hiding it. Fear. covering up my deformity.

I'm so glad that's gone, and I'm glad too that your sister benefited from your difficulty. I have someone that taught others for me, and held my hand through my situation. I wish I could have for them. And you had someone too.

Keep sharing. It heals.

Cindylew said...

Courageous is the first word that comes to mind. My second thought is to tell you that I love you...for sharing, for your compassion in most all you do, for reaching out to those you barely know and lifting them up.
Not nearly to the degree that you suffered, but I too have experienced depression at regular periods throughout my adolescence and adulthood. I wonder why you chose this time to share this...why is this in the forefront of your mind. I just wanted to make sure everything is alright...we can't pull people out unless we know they're down there.

McKayla said...

What a amazing and moving post!

Like they say, What doesnt kill you, makes you stronger. And i know it took alot of courage to write that. You are a very strong woman. I applaud you.


Linda said...

Thanks for sharing sweets. It touches so many, but I still think it's taboo in certain families. You do not have to tell anyone, but you certainly don't have to be ashamed. As always you have my love & support.

-Grace- said...

Preach sister!

I love you bunches *hugs & kisses*!!

kagead said...

Don't hide. Ever. The power you bring to those who ARE hiding is immeasurable. The education you bring to those of us who have been fortunate enough to be spared of this horrible disease is immeasurable.

You serve as a great reminder, and a great caution to never assume to know ANYTHING about anyone. Someone looking at you from the outside probably says, "Her life is so easy. She has blah, blah and blah and she looks amazing, to boot."

If that someone is suffering from depression and knows you are too, you are showing them there IS a way. If that someone thinks depression is a overblown pity party, they can now be forced to re-evaluate that alarmingly misinformed opinion.

You have done too much, conquered too much and have to much yet to do to hide. Stay strong my brave friend.

Bonnie said...

I'm speechless. Thanks for sharing.

Barbara said...

First WOW.. powerful powerful post.
I am sure that was not easy for you to write.

Depression is a very difficult state to describe..I have been there (perhaps not to the level you describe) but it is a deep dark place. My DH was diagnosed with an ugly cancer on Feb. 19th (which was a shock) and then 10 days later was in the ICU being given last rights by the hospital priest.. the body can only absorv so much shock.. so I definitely could relate to this feeling you describe.. and then you just go numb.. and the not eating part and not wanting to live part is dead I feel for you.. because I know how painful this was to write..It took me a good year, lots of meds, and therapy to come out of this funk.. not sure I am completely out..I don't know that you do fully come out of it.. it kind of stays with you.. but as you said YOU ARE ALIVE and you are surrounded by people who really care about you and love you for who you are.. BIG HUGS TO DRAZ

Kristin said...

You're so right that no one can really understand how depression steals a person's personality and enjoyment of *anything* unless they've experienced it themselves or seen it in a close family member. I'm glad you were able to get better, and that your family was better equipped to handle your sister's depression because of what you all learned during your illness.

TJ said...

Thanks for sharing your story. If it doesn’t hurt too much I would be interested in hearing what helped you make that turn around. I ask b/c my college friend and ex-roommate suffers from depression – she knew it too. I tried everything I could to help pull her out. I even went into massive debt that I am still paying off to try and make things easier. Lowering her rent so she didn’t have to worry about running out of money. Taking her out to dinner or the movies to get out of the house for a little while. I tried stepping back and stepping up. I listened. I talked. I tried everything that I could. I know her parents did the same. Nothing seemed to help and honestly I was concerned about what I would come home to at times.
I have nothing to do with her now – but that wasn’t my choice. After an 8 year friendship, she hasn’t spoken to me in 5. I still worry about her since I know she is not doing any better. I wonder what I or any of her now ex-friends could have done differently. I know that I couldn’t make her get help and honestly had come to the conclusion that my enabling wasn’t making things any better. It hurts a lot at times that I couldn’t be a “better friend”. It also hurts when I think of how I was treated. I tell myself that she had bigger issues, but 5 years later I am still hiding trying not to get hurt again.

Liz - Lizzle - Libby Lou said...

I don't know you. I must say, however, I feel as if I know you. This is your first post I've ever read, though I have heard positive whispers of your outrageousness in the blog world. Yet today, I stumble across your honest, loving, brave, sobering post about depression. I too have been there. I too, have been bedridden. I have seen that look in my mother's eyes as well as she prayed her daughter wouldn't fade away. My story is a bit different, but still, I relate to everything you said. I got goose bumps, and I wanted to cry for you. I wanted to APPLAUD for you for speaking of something so delicate and shameful to you. Do not feel shame. You would not be here or be YOU today, without what you went through then!
You said you lost most of those memories, and I did too. I think it is such a dark mental place, that once we heal, our mind doesn't want us to remember. I love you already! :D I can't wait to begin to keep up with your blog and maybe even look back on your journey thus far!

The Curvaceous Conundrum said...

Anything I could say about this post would pale in comparison to the words that are etched in this post. You are an amazing woman and I hope to one day be half as strong as you. Xo

Gen said...

So, so sorry you had to go through this and you still suffer from the "hidden" part. I do relate, though my "hitting bottom" was short-lived, and different than yours. But it is something you can't explain, inexplicable, like you said. Just despair.

My Uncle, the "rock" of the family, committed suicide by shooting himself 3 years ago. This was devastating - and a wake-up call. Depression is serious. It is life-threatening.

What a brave post. Thank you.

Maria said...

Your post really touched me. I went through something similar when I was 18. Depression was also taboo in my family, so while I had a fairly good idea what was happening to me, my mother trotted me out to every kind of doctor she could think of, because there must be something physically wrong with me. After four months of that farce, I finally saw a neurologist who recognized the real story, prescribed some antidepressants, and saved my life. I'm sure I could've benefited from a little couch time back then too, but that would've been way too much of a stretch. It's too bad.

Thanks for sharing your story, Drazil!

Roo said...

Your words have been very powerful and deep and I applaud you for speaking up! So many wave off depression as "a bit down" or "sad" or think that depression is manic where you could go skitzo at any second, but there are many forms of depression. Unfortunately I can relate to everything you have said. It grips you and drags you down to the dark bottom and you feel that you can't get out...that it envelopes you and your whole world. I have been there and it is a nasty place. Luckly, in recent years, it's taken more seriously and help is available...that it does not need to be hidden away. I was on medication for many years to cope with life and only came off them 2 weeks before my surgery. I am now learning ways to deal with it, but I will be honest and say I have had those sinking moments when I think things are going to lose control...I have managed to get through it, but it can hit at any time (including as you say, the happiest times!).

~ Katie ~ said...

I just want to give you a big ol' texas bear hug...sniff sniff. it's hard to cry at work ya know :) I have fought on and off the demons of depression since I was 10. I tried once a year from 5th grade until I graduated high school to kill myself. No one knew. Everyone thought I was ok. I asked for help- begged and pleaded. But no one would. Why would a person who looks happy and smiles all the time, who had great grades and friends want to die. When I finally got medication to treat the depression, it was by accident. I was trying to get help for my endometriosis. But the dr thought I could use the help of anti depressants because what 19 year old wouldn't be depressed living in constant pain and being told they need a hysterectomy. The medication actually made things worse. My family finally realized just how bad off I was when I had locked myself in the bathroom with a knife. They were finally able to break the door down to get to me. I just wanted to bleed. I didn't want to die that day, just bleed. Because the blood would take all that bad stuff away. I have to fight doubly hard for my sanity because I can't take anti depressants. They all make it worse for me. It's a sucky road. I just wanted to share, since you were brave enough to share with all of us. Love ya!

Jess said...

Amazing post. Thanks Draz.

KRISTI said...

Isn't it nice to just get it all out?

Colls said...

I am a day late on this, sorry!

What an amazing post. I am so sorry that you had to go through that. Depression is a scary thing. Looking back now for myself, it seems so strange that I only felt "normal" when I didn't feel good. I don't really know how to explain it. But, it really does rule your life.

Thank you so much for sharing, that was such a powerful post. <3

I can do this.....finally said...

I'm blown away at how a post from someone I've never met can go right to my core. I love the internet. I understand some of what you are going through. And I say some because my depression was not as severe as yours. But what finally got me to a doctor was having a dream one night in which someone had committed suicide and I TOTALLY understood why they chose that way out. It made perfect sense to me. I woke up in a cold sweat and I knew what the next step would be if I didn't get help and now!

I was on meds for a year and then went off for 3 years. Then 1 1/2 yrs ago another doc put me back on them. I want so badly to get off of them because of the shame in my head. But my current doc has urged me to stay on them. Why the shame? I'm not real sure except there is still a social stigma attached to depression.

Thank you for yet another post prompting some insight to my head games.

Steph said...

Drazil, you have no idea how much I needed to read this today. A family member called me this morning and asked me if I knew any natural remedies for depression. I didn't make much of it but reading this, I think he was reaching out. I'm going to call him right now. XOXO

Julie, The Accidental Fat Chick said...

Dang it, why do you always post this deep stuff when I'm behind on my reading? You have me in tears yet again. Eight months ago I was deeply in the throws of depression... not eating or sleeping. Its something that I've hidden from the world, only two people have a clue. Maybe I can borrow your strength & share one day. I love you bunches! xoxoxo

Girl Bandit said...

I am with Julie ..I always miss the deep stuff. Thanks so much for sharing your does take courage. Very few people know of my battle with depression. Twice I came close to killing myself...July last year was one of those times. I was bedridden at times and used tolay there plotting ways to die. Only my kids kept me here. 9 mths later I can't believe how far I have come and losing the weight has only helped. I don't tell many because unless you have been there you have NO idea how debilitating it is and I hate the flip comments you can get so I don't bother. I relate to all you said and am so sorry you were shut away...I can't imagine how that made you feel. Thanks for u xxx

Joey said...

Crazy. I have been thinking forever about vlogging about this. I suffer from it too. You are so so strong and powerful. It really is ok to show that you're not perfect. I promise. We can hold hands and do it together. I love love love you sugar cheeks!

Fiona said...

Thanks for sharing this. In doing so you ease the shame for others. It is still considered something to hide. I had depression 10 years ago when my marriage broke up. Did you know that if you have suffered from depression you cannot emigrate? There are lots of doors that are closed to you once you admit depression even if it was years ago. I think that is one of the reasons for hiding it. Its not something I share with people but if I know someone is suffering I dont think any less of them so why is it still such a tabboo subject?
Sending you big hugs and a listening ear.
Much love x

DB said...

I'm just catching up on some blogs. So many thoughts & emotions are swirling within me right now - I can't put how I feel for you & the powerfulness of this post. Just please know you are loved!

Nikki said...

I know I am a little late. =/


I know how you feel...that was 16...for only about 2-3 weeks...but still...I know what its like..and it is a hell you never wanna go back to.

I could have never put it into words like you...You are amazingly pure n honest...


Bella said...

I walked around like a zombie for months, not able to care about anything or for anyone (especially myself).

Depression didn't even enter my head, nor did thoughts of wanting to die. Just that I felt like absolute crap, and didn't want to live.

I finally went to a Doctor who said that I had a chemical imbalance that made it hard for me to feel happiness, to care about anything, to move... didn't mention anything about Depression.

She diagnosed medication that I willingly started taking because I was sick of feeling so BLEEEEH.

It was only after i'd been on the medication for a couple of weeks that I was speaking with a girl that I worked with and telling her what the Doctor had said and she said, 'so you have Depression'.

I was SHOCKED. Because even I had all these horrid thoughts in my head about what Depression was (that you choose it, that you just need to snap out of it etc etc).

To this day I am SO thankful to the Doctor for explaining it in clinical terms, because I think that I wouldn't have accepted her diagnosis, at that time anyway, if she had used the 'D' word.

These days I take any chance I can get to share my story with people who can benefit from it.

Depression IS an actual chemical imbalance in the body. It is NOT something that you choose, that you can control etc...

and only those that have been there know the gutwrenching fear of going back...

When people find themselves there, and it can come about in all manner of circumstances, it is important that they seek help BEFORE it gets too deep...

It's ironic that the two things that can help you recover the quickest (besides medication) are sunlight and exercise - and that the disease makes you want to curl up in a ball in a dark place and hide... a vicious circle...

Thanks for being brave enough to share this story :)

If it makes one person think twice about their assumptions about Depression, your job is done!


beautifulinsideandout said...

Thank you so much for this post at this exact time. You've said so eloquently what I was trying to say in my post last night...


(mental note: READ the blogs!)